The Sacramento Kings have made sweeping changes to their roster and ideology since last season. They traded away star DeMarcus Cousins to kick off a youth movement, with the majority of their veterans waived or traded.
The Kings took another step toward handing the future of their franchise over to their younger players by making Bogdan Bogdanovic the highest paid rookie ever. Sacramento signed him to a 3-year, $36 million contract out of Europe. He's fresh off a title with his Turkish club, Fenerbahçe, and a Silver medal in the Olympics with Serbia.
The Kings clearly believe in Bogdanovic's ability to give him such an expensive contract before he's even played a single NBA game, but then they double down. Sacramento had the ability to extend a qualifying offer to former top-10 pick Ben McLemore but chose to pass and make him an unrestricted free agent.
Sacramento Kings to decline extending qualifying offer to Ben McLemore and he'll become unrestricted free agent, league sources tell ESPN.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 28, 2017
McLemore never panned out to be the guard Sacramento wanted him to be. He had a disappointing rookie season and never quite lived up to the potential he displayed entering the draft. At one point he was considered the No. 1 overall pick, but he's shown himself to be a role player with the Kings. Still, it's surprising to see a franchise give up on a player they drafted so high.
Perhaps that decision was to make sure Bogdanovic had an open spot on the roster. With McLemore gone there's nobody to get in his way from minutes or a starting position. Now he gets to come to the NBA with a practically guaranteed starting position and plenty of money. Few players have it as well as that.
However, that also comes with heavy expectations. Sacramento clearly believes in this guy and he needs to prove that he's worth the hype.